How to Backup the Mac in Correct Way using Time Machine

How to Backup the Mac in Correct Way using Time Machine

Your Mac has increasingly valuable documents that you would never want to lose. Travel photos, financial reports or work presentations must be protected. What would you do when all those important files disappear in one moment because of some technical catastrophe: a virus, computer damage or deleted by mistake file? Where should you wait for help from?  

No more waiting or crying “Missing!” The Mac “First-aid” is fast beside you. The main hero of our article is the Backup system that is responsible for saving all these digital documents. That’s why every important file can literally live a long life. Even in case the file is damaged or lost, it could be found and renovated with Mac Backup System.

After reading this guide you will know everything about backing up your Mac OS X, using many kinds of utilities. You will learn various simple ways how to backup your files automatically and how to create an identical copy of the whole Mac OS.

Be ready that the methods given below can backup the files only locally! That’s why offline and online backups are the extra secure ways to protect your files completely. There could be many extreme life situations even if you have copied the documents to another computer or an external hard drive. Just imagine that a thief steals your Mac and doesn’t want to return you anything, even in spite of your begging to give the last look on the photo of your beloved one! Maybe your computer was damaged by natural disaster that had destroyed everything. So, in that case any backup hard drive or the second computer could fail. Do the online backups in any case.

So, let’s begin our backupping journey! Backup as much data as possible. Continue using your files as long as you want!


How to Backup the Mac with Time Machine

Time Machine is a built-in backup tool in Mac OS X (from 10.5). This program works all the time in the background and saves every potentially needful file for you. The copies of all your documents, system files and applications are made by Time Machine. This app is even distinguishes what is no more useful. For instance, it doesn’t make copy of files that are already in the trash bin. In case you gave not enough memory space, program can delete the oldest files to free place for fresh one.


1. Plug in your external hard drive.

Use a drive that is the equal size to your internal drive of the Mac. Plug in an external hard drive in the Mac. The way you can do it depends on the characteristics of your drive. It could be done via FireWire, USB or Thunderbolt. Time Machine also works with the hard drive connected to the Airport Extreme server or with any other network tech devices. In this guide, I’ll explain this method of using an external drive that is directly connected. The main reason for this choice is that a directly connected drive is much more faster than any other way.

A tip for you:
Time Machine automatically occupies all the available space on the drive, because it works in such a way. So, if you don’t need to busy all the drive with a protecting process of Time Machine, you’d better divide your drive into 2 parts: one will save backups of Time Machine and another will save your other files. You can do it with the help of Disk Utility in Mac OS X and go through the ‘Application – Utilities’ way. Now Time Machine takes no entire space on the hard drive.


2. Open Time Machine and choose the backup purpose.

After an external drive is connected with your Mac, pass the ‘System Preferences - Time Machine’ way. Move the toggle ‘Off’ from the left to ‘On’ on the right side.

Then hit the ‘Select Disk’ to choose the volume or drive that you want to apply for Time Machine. Then you will see the question from Time Machine about your choice whether to use that disk as your backup purpose or not. The next step for you is giving a password to the backups. Now, only you can enter or encrypt all the files whenever you want.

A tip for you:
Time Machine works only in the format called ‘Mac OS X Extended’ or ‘Mac OS X Journaled’. Anyway, if your drive has another format now, Time Machine will ask you to reformat it.

3. Eliminate items.

You can also get notifications about the old backup removals.  

The ‘Options’ function in Time Machine lets you excluding any volume you want from the backups and know about the deletions of old backups.

A tip for you:
It is optional. Still, it’s very useful and simple.

4. You have done all the work! Now it is the Time Machine’s turn.

Backups will take place every hour without your partaking.

Time Machine saves:

  • Every backup per hour for the past twenty-four hours;
  • All backups of every day for the one last month;
  • All backups in a week for all past months.


How to Restore Files from Time Machine Backups

To renew folders or files exactly from Time Machine, enter ‘Time Machine’ in the Spotlight search to see the Time Machine view.

Here you can check the timeline and then move back to a certain file again. When a file will be highlighted, hit the spacebar to look on it quickly or press the ‘Restore’ button to return the file back to the original folder. You will be also asked which file is better to remain or replace, if there is a filename conflict.

Time Machine can also renew the complete system at the same time, working with the newest file copies. Hold the Command ‘⌘’ and ‘R’ keys all the time while the Mac is relaunching. Then output the ‘R’ keys at once you will see the Apple logo. Select the ‘Restore from a Time Machine Backup’ option.

However, the functions of Time Machine are also limited. Especially when you need a backup of the whole system when there is something wrong with the startup disk. So, when you can't enter your Mac, you'll need to have a clone of the system.


How to Set a Bootable Backup of Your Mac

Now, you will learn how to install a bootable backup on Mac. A clone is an identical copy or complete image of the system. With that clone on the drive, you can set off from your backup very quickly and continue working in spite of startup problems of the Mac.

There are special utilities that create cloned images of the drive. Using them gives an opportunity to table the backups and use different extra options than Disk Utility offers. The most popular are Carbon Copy Cloner and SuperDuper! Both of them have free trials for new users. So, try each app and choose the appropriate one for you.


1. Launch the cloning app and select the destination volumes.

After opening the cloning tool, think where you want to keep your backup. In the left, you will see the menu which offers to pick up the volume to backup. In the right, there is one more menu where you should choose the next destination volume.

You can backup to an image file, external drive or computer with network. For the good compatibility with Mac OS X, your drive must function as Mac OS Extended. In case your drive has another format, Windows for example, you need to reformat it with the Disk Utility.

A tip for you:
Try to separate drives into two volumes so that each of them worked on a certain purpose. So, it is better to manage your backup space wisely and divide the backups into different baskets.

2. Choose the script for backup

‘SuperDuper! Application’ has various backup scripts.

For a bootable backup of the whole system select ‘Backup all files’. You should know that the ‘Backup-user files’ option doesn't work as a bootable backup. It can only backup some Home account directories on the computer.

3. Select the options you want the most

Go to ‘Options’ and decide whether you need the computer to set a certain permission for the files before it will clone all of them. You can choose the actions during the copy procedure. You can also click the default option ‘Erase Backup’ which is the only one for unregistered users. This function erases the volume of destination, so that you could ensure in the exact copy process. All other options of ‘SuperDuper!’ let the user do much more various backups.

A tip for you:
It is optional! So, do it, if you wish.

4. Set the time for your backups

You are here to set up automated backups. So, press the ‘Schedule’ button and then you will see a big schedule where you indicate the time of backups.

5. Now, begin the cloning!

Review your choices and then press "OK". Well, you have done it successfully! The program will make many bootable copies of your Mac according to your timetable. It will delete all older backups on your drive, if you reach the space limit.

Setting up the automatic backups seems not so tricky now, right?

Share this article with other Mac users, they may find it useful too. ;)